Minefield of Dreams: The Good Intentions that Harm Society

by Ben Irvine (February 2014)


The first duty of any worthy campaigner is to provide a lesson in terminology. After all, a worthy campaign is one which has significant consequences for society, and anything significant that needs to be campaigned for implies an insufficiently discerning public to whom suitable distinctions must be pointed out.

Consuming around a fifth of the national income, the British welfare system offers subventions to people facing the costs of unemployment, housing, disability, illness and childcare, and provides tangible goods, including housing and other accommodation, and quasi-medical supplies, such as contraceptives for prostitutes and the replacement drug methadone for heroin addicts. The last example illustrates an important distinction. One might, and Dalrymple does, criticise methadone provision purely on the grounds of the drug itself: methadone is as addictive as heroin, and is more dangerous than heroin alone when the two drugs are taken together (which they often are, contrary to the aims of the policy of replacement). But the utility or otherwise of the resources supplied by the state is an issue which is tangential to the more fundamental form of iatrogenesis resulting from the principle underlying welfare provision.



The effect was that almost anyone I talk to in the street, never mind search, has to be given a similar written record. According to the Metropolitan Police, this record takes seven minutes to complete. So, if I go to an incident and see a group of four people and wish to ask them their names and addresses, it takes me about half an hour. Later, I will also have to enter the details on the computer, a process that takes a further half an hour (drive back to the station, wait in line for the computer, enter in the details).


Journal of Modern Wisdom, author of Einstein & the Art of Mindful Cycling, an affiliate of the Well-being Institute at Cambridge University, and an Honorary Associate of the Philosophy Department at Durham University. His website is www.benirvine.co.uk.


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